March 24, 2020

MATHESON

Matheson Motor Car Co. 

Grand Rapids, Michigan (1903)

Holyoke, Massachusetts (1904-1905)

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (1906-1910)

Matheson Automobile Co. (1910-1912)

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania


This is a Matheson radiator emblem (1908-1911)     mjs
Size: 52mm high 39mm wide    MM: None

Production of the Matheson automobile began in 1903 at a plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan and then moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1904 before being transferred to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1906. The Matheson was an expensive automobile but sold well from the start with over 60 cars built in the first year. A massive 5-ton truck was also built in 1906 but with very limited production.

After the move to Wilkes-Barre the Matheson automobile really took off and did well in competitions with several top race drivers, including Louis Chevrolet. A Matheson touring car with seven passengers on board established a world record of a mile in 50 seconds at Atlantic City in September 1906.

The Matheson was seen as an ideal touring car. A six-cylinder Matheson joined the line for the 1909 model year and became the Silent Six for 1911. The company was in financial trouble and went through receivership and reorganization as the Matheson Automobile Company in 1910. The second receivership came in December 1912 and the Matheson did not survive.

Emblems

The first Matheson cars did not carry an emblem but most likely displayed the Matheson name on a small serial plate attached to the dash or on the body of the car, see example below:

This is a Matheson serial plate (1907)     mjs
Size: 88mm wide 51mm high

The Matheson serial plate for a car built in Wilkes-Barre shown above, dates from 1907 and is rare. I have not seen Matheson serial plates for the units built in Grand Rapids or in Holyoke. Such Matheson serial plates would be extremely rare.

The Matheson name was also displayed on sill plates and the hub caps, see examples below:


This is a Matheson sill plate (1907)    bonhams

This is a Matheson hub cap (c1908)    dkc

An original photo from 1904 of Henry Ford in a Matheson shows what appears to be a small radiator emblem, see below, but this is almost certainly a radiator maker's name plate.

Henry Ford in a Matheson showing a radiator maker's emblem (1904)   ms

Brass "Matheson" radiator scripts are seen in original photos from 1907, see examples shown below, and may have been used from about 1906, although I cannot confirm this:

This is a Matheson showing a radiator script at Brighton Beach Races (1907)    tom

This is the same Matheson car winning the Giants Dispair Hillclimb (1907)   dpl

This "Matheson" radiator script appears to be in cast brass but scripts cut from brass sheet were probably in use also, see example below. Original brass "Matheson" radiator scripts are very rare.

This is a Matheson radiator script ( c1907)    bonhams

The following original photo of a Matheson car taking part in the 1907 Glidden Tour shows a radiator emblem. The photo is not clear but the emblem appears to be round. I can find no evidence of a round emblem used by Matheson in 1907 which would be a very early date for such an emblem. It is possible that the photo has been wrongly captioned.

This photo is captioned as a Matheson taking part in the 1907 Glidden Tour (1907)   dpl

Matheson brochures for 1908 show a vertical, oval shaped radiator emblem, see example below:

This factory illustration of a Matheson limousine shows an oval radiator emblem (1908)   sfam

Close up showing the radiator emblem (1908)   sfam

The oval radiator emblem is also seen on original photos of Matheson cars from 1908 through 1910, see examples below:

Louis Chevrolet driving a Matheson in Vanderbilt Cup Race (1908)  ms

Factory photo showing Matheson car with an oval radiator emblem (1909)   dpl

Close up showing the radiator emblem (1909)

The following illustration from a 1909 Matheson brochure shows the same emblem and the detail is clear and accurate in the original illustration:

This shows a Matheson radiator and emblem (1909)     sfam

This Matheson radiator emblem is beautifully designed and shows the tartan and coat of arms of the Matheson clan and is finished in multi-colored enamel, see example at the top of this post and shown again below. I suspect that this Matheson radiator emblem was used from 1908 until and including the Matheson Big Four in 1911, but I cannot confirm this. This Matheson radiator emblem is extremely rare.

This is a Matheson radiator emblem (1908-c1911)   mjs
Size: 52mm high 39mm wide    MM: None

There is an equally beautiful, smaller, multicolored enamel Matheson radiator displaying the name "Matheson", see example below:

This is a Matheson radiator emblem (dates unknown, poss 1909)    mjs
Size: 42mm high 28mm wide    MM: Unknown

I have been unable to confirm the dates of use of this Matheson radiator emblem. It may have had very limited use for a specific Matheson model, for example the first Matheson Six model in 1909, or may have been a prototype emblem that was not actually used. This Matheson radiator emblem is extremely rare and possibly ultra rare.

The following original photo shows a Matheson Six with the larger, vertical oval radiator emblem and a radiator script. Original "Matheson Six" radiator scripts are very rare.

This is a Matheson Six (1910)     dpl

Close up showing the radiator emblem and script (1910)

 can find no reference to the following horizontal oval, deep blue enamel Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem, which is clearly original. This Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem was most likely used briefly for the very first Matheson Silent Six cars in early 1911 and is ultra rare.

This is a Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem (possibly early 1911)     mjs
Size: 69mm wide 43mm high    MM: Unknown

The Matheson brochure for the 1912 Silent Six, which was first produced in late 1911, includes an illustration of the radiator with the emblem. As illustrated, the emblem is similar to the vertical oval emblem seen in the 1909 Matheson brochure but has wings rather crudely and inaccurately drawn, clearly a later addition to the illustration, see below:


1912 Matheson Silent Six brochure illustration showing radiator and emblem (late 1911)    sfam

Close up showing the 1912 Matheson Silent Six emblem illustration (late 1911)

This lack of accuracy is in contrast to the accurate depiction of the radiator emblems illustrated in earlier Matheson brochures and suggests that the final Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem design had not been decided at the time the artwork was prepared for the 1912 brochure. This was some time after the appearance, earlier in 1911, of the first Matheson Silent Six models, which I believe may have carried the blue horizontal radiator emblem shown earlier above, although I cannot confirm this.

The multi-colored enamel Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem shown below is an original of the final version of the emblem. This Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem was used from late 1911 through 1912 to the end of Matheson production and is extremely rare and possibly ultra rare.


This is a Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem (late 1911-1912)      khc
Size: 165mm wide 52mm high   MM: None

Close up showing the Matheson Silent Six emblem center     khc
Size: 52mm high 39mm wide

Beware, there are some good quality reproduction Matheson Silent Six radiator emblems, see examples shown below:

This is a reproduction Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem      mjs
Size: 166mm wide 52mm high

This is a reproduction Matheson Silent Six radiator emblem      kmc
Size: 184mm wide 57mm high

If you can help by confirming the dates of use of any of the Matheson radiator emblems shown in this post, please let me know, in order to update the post.



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